Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thanksgiving Day

November 27, 2003
Psalm 37:25

INTRODUCTION: With the recent “Luther”™ movie and its success there has been an increased interest in his life and work. The story is told that upon his death Luther’s family was going through his personal effects. In Luther’s coat pocket it is reported that his family found two small coins and a piece of paper. Written on this crumpled page were the words “We are beggars!”  This cryptic message of his are supposedly Luther’s final words. Appropriate? Most assuredly so! As we observe yet another national Thanksgiving, enacted by President Lincoln 140 years ago, let us consider the words of David as they are recorded in sacred Scripture in Psalm 37:25:  “I have been young and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread”

I.        David [and for that matter Luther also] had the perspective of seeing life from its complete perspective.

A.     David writes from the perspective of seeing all of life unfold before him. “I have been young and now I am old...” David reminds us.

1.      He had the experience of a lifetime to draw from. David was able to see life as a youth as well as an old man. He gained a wealth of knowledge that came with age and experience.  Whose advice would you take? A twenty something social worker or a sixty year old grandmother who has “been there” and “done that”?

2.      What have you learned? Life experience is such a great teacher.  A part of thanksgiving is to give back to the younger generation; teaching them that we are thankful in spite of what circumstances might dictate. 

B.      Perspective is an asset that was granted these two giants of faith. What did they learn?

1.                  David learned the hard way. He had everything and proceeded to throw it all away because of greed.  Through a series of calculated acts he proceeded to destroy two families; the family of Uriah and his own as we are reminded that a sword would not leave his family.

2.         Luther learned that we truly are beggars. We are sinners saved by grace – for by nature we are blind, dead, and enemies of God. Yet by God’s free grace and favor we are restored, redeemed and forgiven.

Transition:  Not only is there the perspective of a long life lived - there is also the perspective of a life lived in faith.

II.     David lived life from the perspective of seeing life lived out in its totality witnessing the hand of God in his life. He states in our text: “Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken.”

A.     Our sins cry out for us to be condemned.

1.      Our sin calls us Guilty! Because of sin we all face the prospect of facing the reality of grim death. By nature I am blind, dead and an enemy of God. I cannot do those things, which are pleasing in His sight. By definition I do those things, which I should not do and fail to live, as I ought. The Savior reminds us in John, chapter 3: “that which is born of flesh is flesh...” The sin of Adam, which led to a fallen nature, was passed on to his son Seth and to his sons all the way to this present generation. Thus David will remind us later in the Psalms “In sin my mother conceived me...” From the moment of conception we are found to be with a corrupt nature.

2.      Our guilt leads to punishment and embarrassment to feelings of hopelessness and abandonment. Confession some may say is good for the soul but absolution is necessary for that soul’s survival!

B.      Yet God will not abandon us past the point of no help!

1.      He did this in time when He sent Christ into the world to the bloody cross. Christ was abandoned and forsaken by God and by men as He took our sins to Himself. The Father forsook the Son on Good Friday so He would never have to forsake you who are His children!

2.      Think back to this past year. Are we only thankful when things have gone “our way”? Yet what has Scripture and experience taught us? He can not abandon us pas the point of no hope/help.              When things appear to be going against us, when all seems lost and so far beyond our grasp.

 He will never leave or forsake us. Thus we can say with the hymn writer: “Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide; the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee. Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!”

Transition: With David we are called to see life from the perspective of a long life and a life lived by faith. These perspectives can only drive us to one conclusion that God will provide for His own!

III.   We may be beggars yet God provides for us despite our condition of sin.

A.     God will provide our spiritual needs. David is quite clear; “I have not seen the righteous forsaken!”

1.      He will never turn His back on us.

2.      With St. Paul we can say “I am convinced that neither life nor death nor angels or principalities height, depth or anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is found in Christ Jesus our Savior.” [Romans 8]

B.     God most surely will provide for our physical needs also. “Nor will his children beg for bread”

1.      This has certainly been a challenging year. When we recall the year of our Lord 2003 we will remember the flood of the century – a year in which crops were seriously affected. And even those not effected by farming know the effects of rising prices, falling interest rates, and a flat economy, where one’s 401K turns into a 41K! Circumstances may cause some to say our situation is bleak yet David gives us a different picture – God’s children won’t beg for bread.

2.      Jesus puts it more succinctly; “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they?”  [Mathew 6:25-27]

CONCLUSION: In just three little words Luther summed up our entire life – we are beggars – yet God has not given up on us nor will He ever – He has promised to provide for us. Lord in Your mercy – hear our prayer:

            Heavenly Father, God of all grace, waken our hearts that we may never forget your blessings but steadfastly thank and praise you for all your goodness, that we may live in your fear until with all your saints we praise you eternally in your heavenly kingdom.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving Eve
November 26, 2003
Psalm 100:5

INTRODUCTION: In our Psalm for this evening David calls for us to praise the Lord. Yet David does not simply compel us to praise the Lord. He gives us significant reasons why the Lord is deserving of our praise. 

1.    The Lord is good – This is His essence. He is our good and gracious God and Father. In Psalm 36:5 David exclaims “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies.” In His goodness the Lord’s benevolence reaches to the skies. He delights in doing good to us.

2.    His love endures forever – David will say elsewhere “The earth is full of His unfailing love” (Psalm 33:5) He befriends us – as He is our closest and dearest friend.  His love endures forever. It will never cease. It will not run out. It will never run cold.

The Lord’s unfailing love, kindness, and mercy is demonstrated and well documented throughout the pages of the Old Testament. In the book of Deuteronomy we are told “ Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; for He is the faithful God, keep His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep His commandments.” (VS..9)

Later on in the same chapter He reminds us “ If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep His covenant of live with you as He swore to your forefathers” (vs..12)

Concerning David the Lord reminds us In 2 Samuel 5:15: “But my love will never be taken away from him…” A question… Was David somehow different then others? Was he somehow superior? Was he smarter, stronger, better? Hardly! The sins of David are notorious and legendary. David was guilty of murder and adultery. His was the head of a dysfunctional family of which the Lord had predicted that a sword would never leave it.

No, the promise that the Lord’s love would not be taken away from David does not rest on David. Not in the slightest! Rather, it rests squarely on the love and mercy of God.

God loves us with an everlasting love despite our sin, despite our pettiness, despite our imperfection and guilt. We give thanks to God this night because His love endures forever. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him…” (John 4:16-17)

3.    His faithfulness continues through all generations – Each generation will witness the faithfulness of God for themselves. In the Old Testament we see the faithfulness of God in the giving of the Law, in the deliverance of the children of Israel from the land bondage and slavery. He sustained them through the wandering and pilgrimage years.

Despite their unfaithfulness He remained faithful – faithful to He word and promise in sending us His Son to bear our burdens and our cares to the cross.

To this present hour our Lord has proven to be faithful. This night in thankfulness we offer Him our worship and praise. It is fitting that we should do so for we are only beggars – all that we receive comes from the gracious hand of our Savior.

CONCLUSION: We say with the Psalmist the Lord is good, His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues throughout all generations. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gifts.